The Art of the Spiritual

DEEP RIVER: The Art of the Spiritual

Wednesday, February 28 at 7:30 pm
The Washington National Cathedral

Kevin Deas, bass-baritone
The Cathedral Choir (Michael McCarthy, director)
150 choristers from the Metropolitan AME Church and area high schools
Hosted by Khembe Eichelberger
Angel Gil-Ordóñez, conductor
Written and produced by Joseph Horowitz
Visual track by Peter Bogdanoff
Commentary by Anthony Cook, Kevin Deas, Melvin Hardy & Marty Lamar

Harry Burleigh (1866-1949) is a forgotten hero of American music. Antonin Dvorak’s assistant in New York City from 1892 to 1895, Burleigh was subsequently the composer/singer most responsible for turning spirituals into art songs. His “Deep River” (1915), a sensation in its day, took an obscure upbeat spiritual and turned it into the reverent song made famous by Burleigh, Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson and countless others.

Steal Away arr. Harry Burleigh, as sung by Kevin Deas at PCE's The Trumpet Shall Sound at Washington National Cathedral

“Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” as arranged by Harry Burleigh, sung by Kevin Deas at Washington National Cathedral:

Kevin Deas


Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

To watch Behrouz Jamali’s extraordinary 15-minute Harry Burleigh documentary, starring Kevin Deas and Joe Horowitz:

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